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Fusion Style Dog Grooming Houston

The fusion grooming style is a very unique way of grooming. It takes longer and requires all natural, high quality shampoo. The results are worth every minute of extra effort to make your dog look it’s cutest.

Fusion Grooming Houston TX Yorkie

The Difference Between the Best Dog Groomers in Houston and the Rest

Is there a difference?  Absolutely!  Many dog groomers in our busy city are not in the business for the right reasons and that can show up in their attitude toward your pet as well as in their dog grooming skills and finished product.  It is extremely important to look for the right qualities in your dog’s groomer.  Here are some tips I’ve put together of a few of what I consider to be crucial qualities that only the best dog groomers in Houston have.

All of the Best Dog Groomers in Houston Have an Absolute Love of Dogs!

   Dog Sitting on Lawn It may seem surprising to some of you, as it was to me when I first began my grooming career that there really are dog groomers out there that have a hatred of dogs and most other animals.  Their lack of empathy and love for the dogs they work with can come across in their attitude toward you and your pet as well as in their finished haircut.  It’s very important to get to know your groomer well and watch for signs that they care for your dog.  Only the best dog groomers in Houston are always happy to see your little guys and gals as well as their parents!  The best dog groomers in Houston are understanding and empathetic to the fact that some dogs misbehave because of past life experiences and trauma and are in need of more love, one-on-one personal attention, praise, and steady training.  I have personally turned a traumatized dog that would bite viciously for his nails and feet into a completely passive, though his tummy was full of treats, happy dog in one grooming session!  He continues his training each time he comes in so that it is reinforced that those areas that were problems for him in the past are now a good thing in his eyes.  Other dog groomers would most likely muzzle him, sedate him, or just send him home instead of working with him.  The number one thing that separates the very best dog groomers in Houston from the rest in Houston is that complete and absolute love for all dogs no matter what their past has done to their present state of mind.

The Best Dog Groomers in Houston Are Low Stress Dog Groomers

Dog Sitting up

We all know that our amazing city of Houston can also hold a lot of stress in day to day life.  Behind the scenes of Houston’s dog grooming world there can be extremely stressful situations that can also be difficult to handle.  There are typically many barking dogs in close proximity to each other and dogs that are in the process of being groomed so noise can be an issue for some.  There are dogs that can be hard to handle and require much more time than usual which can affect timing on other dogs and scheduling.  Sometimes customers that don’t understand the entire grooming process (preliminary cut, bath, drying process, and cutting again followed by the final scissoring and finishwork) can pressure the groomer to speed through the process.  Those are only a few examples of the most stressful situations most of us dog groomers face on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.  The key is to be able to handle that stress with ease and work through it in a positive way.  Only the best dog groomers in Houston can do that.  Many give up and return a poorly groomed animal or react poorly to the dog during the groom.  The best dog grooming in Houston should be about treating each situation with a positive attitude and maintain their number one quality, that insatiable love for animals we talked about previously in this blog post.

 When it Comes to the Best Dog Grooming in Houston, Communication is Key!

Puppy isolated on white

Communication with your dog groomer starts when you make your first appointment and should continue throughout the entire grooming process and after drop off or pick up.  The best dog groomers in Houston are easy to talk to, can visualize your style and preferences as well as describe their own ideas to you, and have a thorough knowledge of dog grooming, health, and other aspects of your pet’s life.  The Houston’s best dog groomers will ALWAYS call you immediately if any complications arise while your pet is away.  Other dog groomers wait until you pick up or they drop off to bring up issues and sometimes that can affect the outcome of things like cuts and lacerations or ear infections and that kind of thing.  You should always be able to contact your dog groomer before, during, and after the grooming process to make changes or ask questions if you need to.  The best dog groomers in Houston are always there for you and your pet!

The Best Dog Groomers in HoustonThink Outside of the Box

Dog and Cat on Grass

Most dog groomers are pretty creative and have almost always been drawn to the arts.  The best dog grooming in Houston comes from the ability to think outside of the box with design, function, and ways of getting things done.  They understand how different hair types affect the overall look of certain designs as do body type and some aspects of daily life and communicate these things to the pet parent.  There are very few actual main breed designs and they are typically assigned to certain breeds as standards, BUT that does not mean you have to stick to those guidelines.  Unless you are showing your dog, you can put virtually any type of cut on him or her.  The only things that will hold you back are hair type and condition, really.  Still, you can put a schnauzer cut on a yorkie or a lion cut on a lab if you like.  It can be fun to come up with combinations of style like the lion/lamb cut where the mane is full like a lion but the back legs are fluffy, yet tailored looking.  The best dog groomers in Houston have the God given talent and skill necessary to give your four legged family member the designer look or simple style you desire.

Allergy Free is the Way to Be!

Although it is definitely not a requirement to be one of the best dog groomers in Houston, it definitely helps if you are free of dog related allergies.  Many breeds have dander and other allergens on their hair and skin.  These can make already existing allergies even worse if you are shaving or cutting hair.  Hairs are constantly flying around the grooming room and can be breathed in or stuck to clothes or even in skin during the dog grooming process.  If you are prone to allergies, you may need to groom slower or even restrict the breeds you groom.  OR, just groom Bichon Frise’s because they are a hypo-allergenic dog!  Of course, the best dog groomers would not restrict themselves to only Bichons.

I hope this helps you in selecting your new dog groomer or your decision to stay with the one you have.  Either way, we are always here for the best interest of the dog as well as the family and want only the best for all involved.  Your four legged friend deserves the best love, the best treatment, the best family, and the best dog groomer in Houston.

License for Images CC:

Dog and Cat on Grass [ CC http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=24076&picture=cat-and-dog by Anna Langova Puppy isolated on white [ CC http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=25960&picture=dog by George Hodan ] [ CC http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=20223&picture=blue by esther matheus ] [ CC http://pdphoto.org/PictureDetail.php?mat=&pg=5290 ]

Puppy Grooming Houston

Puppy Grooming HoustonIt’s Time for Puppy Grooming Houston!

It’s Springtime which means it’s already starting to heat up in our humid city.  It also means it’s time for some dog grooming and puppy grooming Houston!  Many of you are first time puppy parents and I’m sure you have tons of questions and have run into some situations you might not have thought of with your little guy.  Have no fear, Hot Shot Dog Grooming is here to help!  We’ve got the know-how on all kinds of information including  puppy hair types, puppy grooming tips, grooming schedules, shampoos to use, and vaccination schedules.  If we leave anything out that you might have questions about, feel free to add it to our dog grooming forum or give us a call!

Puppy Grooming Houston | The Basics and Where to Start

The latest look in the doggy world are those designer pups.  Hollywood influence has definitely promoted the toy and small designer dog look with fluffy hair and dogs that never touch the ground because they fit in a purse.  There is nothing wrong with the designer dog look.  In fact, I LOVE that big stars have started the scissor dog trend again because I absolutely love the challenge and artistic aspects of scissoring.  The problem is, many new pet parents that choose dogs like that are unaware of how to achieve that designer dog look.  It doesn’t begin or end with the occasional puppy grooming Houston.  You MUST brush fluffy coated dogs every single day!  That goes double for your puppy because these fluffy breeds have very easily tangled, fuzzy hair as pups.  Most puppies will try to play with your brush and/or comb at first and that’s okay.  Take time to let your pup get to know the process and that it’s a good thing.  Start by letting your puppy explore the tools the first time, brush a little next time, then a little more, etc.  Create a scheduled time to brush them every day.  A friend of mine has a white toy poodle that knows that when the 6:00 news comes on it’s time to be brushed.  It doesn’t take much time and will give you and your new puppy some quality bonding time!  After your puppy is 3 to 4 months old you can begin your scheduled puppy grooming Houston!  A routine should be in place with your grooming schedule.  Every few weeks you should allow your pup to visit with new people, dogs, and environments including the grooming salon.  No, that does not mean he should be groomed that often, just get used to the surroundings and that it’s not a scary place to be.  When you and your pup are ready, the grooming should happen once every 4-6 weeks or as needed depending on your cut and maintenance schedule.

Puppy Grooming Houston | Bath Time!

Not all shampoos are created equal!  You CANNOT use just any shampoo on your puppy.  There are dangers of the chemicals in adult dog shampoos that can harm your puppy and even blind them.  It’s best to select a puppy specific shampoo.  If in doubt, check the back of the bottle and it will always tell you if it is safe for puppies or not.  Absolutely do not ever use human shampoo on your pet.  It is formulated for human skin and has a higher Ph.  The only one I would use if you have to is a Head and Shoulders shampoo or Selsun Blue.  Baby shampoo is fine because it is tearless and gentler.  Bath time can involve every member of the family and be a super fun part of puppy grooming Houston! Have a few towels ready for shaken out fur, splashes, and drying after the bath.  REMEMBER: to brush your puppy before the bath to remove any tangles!  Water makes knots and tangles tighter and more difficult to remove later.  Let the water run room temperature or very slightly warmer.  You don’t want to freeze or boil your pup!  You can use a gentle sprayer or a simple cup to gently get your puppy’s hair damp so that you can apply the shampoo.  A little goes a long way with shampoo.  Most are formulated so that you can dilute them almost 50% but they don’t want you to know that so you keep buying their products.  Apply a little shampoo on the back of the neck and along the spine then work it into a lather all around the body.  If it seems like it’s not lathering properly, simply apply a little bit of water and try again.  If that doesn’t seem to work, add more shampoo.  To apply shampoo to the head and face area just put a little dab on the top of your puppy’s head and work it into the crown of the head, ears, and cheeks/chin, then slide your thumb down the bridge of the nose so that you keep the shampoo out of his eyes while getting his face clean.  Gently rinse all of the soap off all over.  Take care not to get water or soap in your puppy’s nose, mouth, ears (can put a little cotton in the ears to protect them but not deep), and eyes.  Towel dry your pet and brush then you’re done!  If bathing occurs regularly (once a week maximum unless you’re just rinsing with water), your whole family will enjoy puppy bath time as much as puppy grooming Houston.

Puppy Grooming Houston | Vaccination Schedule

Most Salons require the first set of puppy vaccinations before the first puppy grooming.  Vaccinations help your new furry baby stay protected against some very contagious viruses and bacteria spread from pet to pet.  I personally believe that vaccinating your dog is a very important part of keeping them in good health.  The first round of puppy vaccinations should be given between 6 and 8 weeks of age.  It covers the first round of Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus (DHPP).  All puppy shots including the first round of the Rabies vaccine, which is given at 16 weeks of age should be given before your puppy’s first grooming.  That’s why the first groom should be around 3-4 months.  For more in-depth information on vaccinations including a full schedule and broken down information on what you’re vaccinating against, visit our dog grooming and puppy grooming Houston Forum under the Dog Health tab.

More About Dog Grooming Houston

To better understand what goes into dog grooming Houston, we will put together a list of all different areas that need to be shaved or scissored on. Dog Grooming Houston blades, combs, and other information can be found on dog-grooming-terminology-and-blade-uses section on this site. On some dogs the scissoring skills are needed for a designer dog grooming look. Grooming regions list:
Dog Hair Growth Pattern Dog Grooming Houston

Typical Hair Growth Pattern on a dog

  • Head
  • Eyes
  • Face
  • Ears
  • Neck
  • Muzzle
  • Shoulders
  • Front Chest
  • Front Under-chest
  • Front legs
  • Feet
  • Pads
  • Back
  • Sides
  • Side Under-chest
  • Stomach
  • Hips
  • Tail
  • Rear
  • Back Legs

Dog Grooming Houston | Lion Cut How-To

 

Dog Grooming | Lion Cut with Natural Mane

Dog Grooming in Houston | Lion Cut | After

Throughout my years of dog grooming in Houston, I have fallen in love with some breed patterns more than others and many of their variations.  I love the sharp lines and angles of the schnauzer cut, the soft, fluffy lines of a lamb cut, and the fun and free look of the lion cut.  Each of these patterns can be varied in many ways to look however you want.  My own four legged baby, Louie has volunteered to model and demonstrate how a lion cut with a natural mane is done.  He loves his spa time!

[Read more…]

On the Dog Grooming Side of Things

Different Aspects of Dog Grooming From the Groomers Perspective

There are many different things that go into dog grooming that many pet parents are unaware of.  From check-in to check-out there are many behind the scenes issues that groomers have to deal with.  The purpose of this blog is to inform all of our pet parents of what happens throughout their dog’s grooming process and beyond.  Everything that keeps your dog healthiest and happiest is our priority at all times.  This article will give you all more honest insight on the groomers perspective when  facing conflicts in the dog grooming room.

Ethical Dog Grooming Concerns and How We Handle Them

First of all, let me start by telling you that most dog groomers completely understand that things happen and sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with the best care for your dog.  We are here to help in any situation in the best way possible so never feel afraid or embarrassed to bring your dog in or have us come to you for an always free consultation on how to better care for them within your personal dog grooming budget and needs.  Believe me, we’ve seen it all before and have the experience to help!  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Let’s move on to some of the issues that us dog groomers deal with from time to time. Dogs with parasites – This unfortunately is a common occurrence in this Houston, Texas weather. Summertime is prime time for flea and tick infestations.  The heat and lack of or even overabundance of water drive these nasty critters closer to homes and their pets.  So, what do dog groomers think when they see dogs come in with fleas/ticks?  Probably something along the lines of “Eew” and that’s about it.  We give the dog a flea and tick bath where they sit in a pet safe (but not parasite safe) lather before being rinsed clean of these little blood suckers.  Ticks have to be removed with hemostats to make sure the entire body and head are removed before being put in an alcohol solution.  Now, if a dog continuously comes in with these parasites then it’s time for the dog groomer to speak with the pet parent about solutions for eradicating the pests.  The only time we get frustrated is when we see animals come in completely infested over and over again because it’s so easily preventable.  Another common parasite is ear mites.  These little mites live deep inside the ear canal and can cause pain and damage to your dogs ears if not treated.  Our reaction to ear mites is pretty much the same as it is with fleas. Pet Parents That Don’t Understand Their Dog’s Pain- Some pet parents just don’t understand that their dogs can feel pain just the same as we do.  That’s okay!  We are here to help educate all pet parents out there how to properly care for their pets so that they can better enjoy their furry family member even more!  There are situations that we deal with as dog groomers that can make us uneasy because they are unsafe for the animal.  For example, we have had customers in the past that have dogs with extremely grown out nails and want them trimmed.  That’s not a problem!  We can definitely do that, but only as far back as is safely possible without harming the animal.  Dogs nails are like people nails in that they hurt when they are trimmed back too far.  The staff at Hot Shot Dog Grooming will never perform any service that may potentially harm the animal when it is completely unnecessary.  If your dog has excessively long nails we can refer you to a vet that can sedate your dog and perform this procedure painlessly.  Another common example is when we see overly matted dogs come in and their pet parents want them de-matted.  We are more than willing to de-mat any dog that can safely be de-matted.  If the tangles are too close to the skin, in an area that is highly prone to cuts like the hocks, armpits, or ears, it’s not safe to de-mat them.  The risk of cutting the dog or causing brush burns or excessive pain is to great.  The dog groomers perspective on customers that won’t budge on the brush out idea (being honest):  If you want it long and fluffy, brush it out to begin with or shave it down.  We will not harm animals simply for aesthetic appeal. The Unsatisfiable Pet Parent – This is a kind of tricky thing to write about because we always want to satisfy all of our clients in every way possible.  There are times, however where we try everything to accommodate a pet parent and their pet to no avail.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I came up with the blog section about dog grooming terminology and blade uses etc.  We want it to be as easy as possible for everyone out there, whether they are our clients or not to be able to go into their dog grooming salon and have a pretty clear idea of what they want for their dog as far as style goes.  Still, there are occasions, though few and far between that a client will want us to achieve the unachievable for their particular dog.  For example, we cannot make a completely matted dog look fluffy and beautiful.  As we groomers put it, “we don’t have a magic wand” that can make everything perfect all of the time even though we would love to!  Also, we can’t jump inside the pet parent’s mind to see what they would like done so please, feel free to bring a picture, illustration, at home drawing, or other sources if you have something specific in mind.  Do NOT tell us to “just do your job.”  Our job is to make the pet parent happy to the best of our ability with whatever situation we are working with, while also considering the safety and well-being of your pet.

Strange Dog Grooming Requests

From time to time we get strange or unreasonable requests from pet parents.  Most of the time we welcome these interesting or challenging ideas and appreciate when our clients think outside the box.  Some of you might wonder what dog grooming professionals think when you request unique things for your dogs. Hair Dye – This is actually one of our extra services and can be a great way to express your creativity and dog grooming style.  There has been much controversy on this topic in the dog grooming world.  Many believe it can be harmful to animals, but there is no evidence of such a statement as long as you use pet safe hair dye.  It can be very challenging and frustrating to the groomer simply because the dog can move at any time and spread the dye from the desired area to another part of it’s body. Setting Strange Patterns – Sometimes we are asked to create some pretty interesting patterns on poodles and other fluffy dogs.  We have a long-time client that likes to get a checker board pattern shaved into her lab during the summer.  As creative beings, most dog groomers love to be able to “play” and create new, fun works of art while grooming.  On the other hand, if your dog is too wiggly it may just be impossible to work with.  It’s like forming a clay pot with sand..just doesn’t work out too well. Tattoos and Piercings – Yes, some pet parents like to get piercings or tattoos on their dogs.  The only tattoo that should be on a dog is an identifying marker that shows the dog has been surgically altered or something else that is medically necessary.  Many people out there including a few of us have tattoos and/or piercings of some kind.  BUT, we as humans choose to have those things and to go through the pain.  Your dog doesn’t.  It’s not fair to the dog to put them through any unnecessary pain just for visual appeal.   In summary, dog grooming is not about judging or criticising anyone no matter what condition their dog may be in.  It’s about the pet’s well-being as a whole and we are here to make the lives of our clients, both human and four legged alike happier, healthier, and more enjoyable for the lifetime of the pet and future pets to come.  Education is the first step and we are here to help with all of your pet parenting needs.  If you have further questions, feel free to post on this site or contact us today!

Dog Grooming in Houston – How To Get That Designer Dog Look

Dog Grooming Tips to Keep That Designer Dog Look

When we think of dog grooming, many of us imagine those beautiful, fluffy “designer dogs” that always seem to look great.  Poodles, maltese, and shih-tsus are among the favorites in the “designer dog” line.  These little guys go everywhere with their pet parents and hold their heads high because they’re gorgeous and they know it!  The truth is, you really can achieve and maintain this look at home with a little time and patience.
  • Brushing – The first step is brushing, brushing, and more brushing!  The typical dog that falls into the “designer dog” category other than chihuahua’s of course, requires daily brushing.  Always start with your brush, going over the entire body gently until it feels mostly brushed out.  Then go back over the body with your comb to make sure there are no remaining tangles.  Using a comb can also help fluff up the hair and keep your dog looking like he/she just stepped out of the salon!
  • Bathing – Bathing your dog is a bigger part in the dog grooming world than most people think.  The bath sets the overall look of your dog’s coat and haircut.  If your dog is not clean, the hair will not sit properly for a good, long lasting groom.  Dirty hair also can dull blades and scissors so always bathe your dog before grooming.  Always brush your dog before AND after every bath.  If there are tangles or mats in the hair the water will make those knots tighter and more difficult to remove.
Those are the simplest ways to keeping any dog looking great, especially those runway model dogs.  We do offer other extra services for those pet parents that want to make their dog look extra special.  These can also be done at home with practice and patience.  If you would rather one of our dog grooming professionals to take care of these services, we would be happy to!
  • Dog Grooming Nail Polish – We get asked a lot if it’s safe to paint dog toenails and the answer is yes, it is absolutely okay to do!  You can even do it at home if you want a change of color or need a touch up.  The process can be frustrating and time consuming, so give yourself some time and realize that you are working with an animal so the nails may not come out looking perfect.  Start by selecting a fast drying nail polish in your desired color.  If your dog has black or dark nails you will need a thick polish.  Metallic colors work best for visibility on dark nails.  There are some nail polishes out there for dog groomers, but they’re not any different than the quick dry polish you can pick up at any store.

Now that you have your polish, you simply select a foot to start with and spread the toes apart with gentle pressure from your fingers so that you can easily see all angles of the nail.  Whenever I paint dog toenails I do it paw by paw in front of a fan to ensure even and fast drying.  The rest is pretty much the same as if you were painting your own nails.  NOTE:  A dog grooming insiders tip is to spray each nail after you’ve applied the polish with a quick burst of Care blade coolant spray.  You can pick it up at any beauty supply store or dog grooming store.  It helps the polish to dry harder and faster.

  • Dog Grooming Hair Dye – Hair dye can be a fun way to express your personality through your pet.  There are, however a few things you should know before just slapping some hair dye on your dog!  First, let me start by saying: NEVER USE BLEACH ON YOUR ANIMAL!  Dogs have different skin than we do and it can be easily damaged with harsh products.  Also, never dye your dog’s hair if they have open sores or very sensitive skin.  Make sure that the dye you select is pet safe, made for pets, or vegan.  We, at Hot Shot Dog Grooming in Houston choose to use Manic Panic hair dye because it is a vegan product with no harmful chemicals and is gentle on the hair and skin.  It is a semi-perminant dye with tons of conditioners in it and comes in a wide variety of colors.  Of course, the lighter your dog’s hair is to begin with, the more vibrant the dye color will turn out.

Okay, now that you’ve selected your dye and color we can get down to the actual dog grooming process that is hair dye!  This is the fun, but challenging part.  Make sure you have towels, tin foil, and protective gloves because hair dye stains everything it touches.  Apply the dye directly to the desired area and gently rub it in.  If you’re dyeing just the ears or tail you’ll need to cover those areas with foil to be sure they don’t touch other areas of the dog.  Always stay away from the eye area.  Leave the hair dye in your dog’s hair for at least 15 minutes.  You can check it then and leave it in longer depending on how vibrant you want it to be.  Rinse thoroughly and dry with a towel or a hair dryer on the cool setting.  Never use a heated dryer on a dog – very dangerous!  As with the nail polish and other aspects of dog grooming, remember that you are working with a living, moving animal.  Dye can easily get onto areas you did not want colored so take your time, be patient, and practice.  For more information, contact us today!

Dog Grooming in Houston – How to Remove and Prevent Matting

Matting – A Dog Grooming Guide to Prevention and Removal

What is matting?  Any form of tangles in your dog’s hair.  It can be anything from a tiny pin mat to a solid clump of tangled hair.  Most dogs can get them if they are not groomed regularly.  Severe mats can be extremely painful to your dog.  A dog’s ears are extremely sensitive and highly prone to matting if not properly maintained.  They have a large vein that circles the entire outer edge of the ear and thick mats can restrict blood flow, causing blood clots beneath the skin that can be painful and rupture.   Matting can also keep moisture and parasites closer to the skin which can lead to major skin and coat problems including hair loss, sores, and scabs.  It is vital to your dog’s health to maintain their brushing routine and avoid matting all together.

Dog Grooming Brushes and How to Prevent Matting

So, now that we all understand just how awful matting can be for animals, we can start from the beginning and prevent them at the start.  Regular brushing and combing is the only way to surely prevent matting and maintain a long, lustrous coat.  Depending on the breed and style of hair cut, your dog may need brushing as much as daily to as little as weekly.  Our dog groomers can help you correctly asses your dog’s particular needs.  There are various brushes, combs, and de-matting tools out there that serve different functions depending on the condition of the coat, coat density, and matt densty.  Here is a list of basic tools most dog groomers use to maintain a tangle free coat on your dog.
  • Slicker Brush – The thing to remember with slicker brushes is to use repetition and not pressure.  Those little pins are great for brushing out the top layer of hair on any dog, but they can hurt!  You should be able to run any grooming tool (except for scissors of course!) along your own arm and not feel pain.  That’s why we always say, repetition not pressure!
  • Comb – If your dog has a thick undercoat or long hair, a wire or metal comb is a must!  Slicker brushes can make your dog look amazing on their own…on the surface.  Brushing your dog’s hair with a sturdy comb after using the slicker brush will get the undercoat or lower layer of hair brushed out too.  We have seen plenty of dogs that come in looking great on the surface, only to be completely matted underneath and require shaving anyway.  Always brush then comb your dog’s hair.
  • Mat Splitter or De-Mat tool – There are two main types of de-mat tools to choose from if your dog has a relatively thick mat that can be split apart.  One is a rake style de-mat tool that has a thumb grip and many open sharp blades.  It’s pretty big so I never recommend it.  There are too many safety issues from the open blades to the size and possibilities of cutting yourself or the dog.  The other, and our personal favorite is a curved mat splitter.  It is much smaller than the other de-mat tool and has a curved edge so that only the tangle can fit inside.  To use one of these tools, you simply find the mat and hold your fingers between the tangle and the dog’s skin to ensure your tool is away from the dog’s skin.  Then you slide the blades under the tangle and gently rock outward, splitting the mat apart.  Repeat the process as necessary.  NEVER use these tools when tangles are close to the skin or on the ears, face, or near the hocks (back hip area) of a dog.  These areas are prone to cutting when the tangles are close to the skin.

How to Remove Existing Mats Yourself and When to go to Your Dog Groomer

So, your dog is matted.. Now what?  Some mats are small enough that a brush or comb can gently pull them out.  Others are a little thicker or in patches and can be broken through, then brushed out with de-matting tools.  Then there’s the dogs that are completely pelted with an all over, full body mat.  The ONLY thing you can do in that situation or for mats that are right next of the skin is shave it.  That doesn’t mean we can keep it fluffy or brush it out.  We have to shave it to the skin for the safety of the animal.  Too much brushing can cause brush burn and even cuts on the skin that can be painful and itchy for the dog.  Shaving with a longer blade is more dangerous because the groomer can’t see or feel where the skin is through the mat and can easily cut into the skin.  A #10 or #15 blade are the safest blades to remove close-to-the-skin mats and tangles.  Allow extra time for shaving out mats and tangles because of the care it takes to safely remove them.  That being said, it’s OKAY that you bring your dog to us if he/she is matted.  Do not be embarrassed or think we will hate you forever.  We are here to help you and your dog.  Bringing your dog in to be groomed is the first step to a healthier pet.  Also, REMEMBER: the hair will grow back!  Our number one concern is not the overall appearance, though we love making your dog look amazing, but the health and happiness of your pet.  We will absolutely try to give you the look you desire while keeping your dog happy.  Contact one of our talented dog groomers for a full assessment and more details.

Dog Grooming in Houston – Terminology and Blade Uses

Here at Hot Shot Dog Grooming in Houston, we realize the average pet parent might not understand what to ask for when they go to the dog groomer.  That’s why I have created this compilation of different dog grooming patterns, blade uses and lengths, as well as a brief look at groomer terminology.  This guide will help you decide what to ask for before you even leave your home.

Blade Lengths and Uses @ Dog Grooming in Houston

There are many different blades that dog grooming professionals use when cutting hair.  If you’re shopping around for blades to use at home, you should be aware that they come in both steel and ceramic materials.  Ceramic blades stay significantly cooler for longer periods, but are not very durable.  They break easily if dropped and not all blade sharpeners will sharpen them.  Steel blades are much more durable, but they get hot if used for long periods.  You should always check the heat of your blade to your own skin anyway.  If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for the dog!  Steel blades are cheaper and easily sharpened.  I always recommend steel blades to beginner dog groomers.  Whether you choose ceramic or steel blades, they all have different purposes depending on the dog and what cut and style the customer is looking for.  The higher the number on the blade, the shorter it leaves the hair.  Here’s a breakdown on the blades typically used in most dog grooming salons from shortest to longest in length:
#40 Blade Dog Grooming in Houston  #40 blade – this is the shortest blade most dog groomers use.  It is also one of the most dangerous blades to use because it cuts so close to the skin.  The #40 blade should ONLY be used to remove the hair in the pads of the feet and the inside of ears if requested.
 #15 blade – This blade is safer to use and is typically used for the sanitary areas.  If a dog has sensitive skin, this blade will also work well on the pads of the feet.
#10 Blade Dog Grooming in Houston  #10 blade – This is the safest blade to use anywhere.  It is also used on the sanitary areas (the belly and around the anus) and for dogs that get a clean face.  Because of how safe it is, this blade is the best to use for spot shaving out mats and tangles.  The #10 blade is the shortest blade used for shave downs, leaving the hair short and smooth.  It is typically the blade used to set schnauzer and cocker patterns.  *leaves hair 1/16″*
#7FC Blade Dog Grooming in Houston  #7 (FC) blade – This is another blade used for shave downs and setting slightly longer patterns.  It can be a tricky blade to use because it’s teeth are so wide they can catch skin if not used carefully.  The FC behind the #7 stands for finishing cut.  There is also a #7 skiptooth blade that some groomers use to break open tangles.  I never use this blade because it is the most dangerous blade to use because of it’s extra wide teeth that are designed to pull mats through the blades to split them apart.  The problem with that is it can pull the skin into the teeth as well and cause major lacerations if used by someone inexperienced in dog grooming.  *leaves hair 1/8″*
#5FC Blade Dog Grooming in Houston  #5 blade – This blade is great for short cuts, but will not show skin.  It is perfect for sensitive skin or dogs with white hair because those dogs typically show skin when shaved too short.  The #5 blade can be used to set any pattern like the blades listed previously.  *leaves hair 1/4″*
#4FC Blade Dog Grooming in Houston  #4 blade – This blade is the longest blade typically used by dog groomers, though there are a few others that are slightly longer.  Every dog grooming salon has this blade.  The #4 blade achieves that short, but fluffy look that many of our pet parents love.  *leaves hair 3/8″*

Using Blades in Reverse: An Overview and Translation of Lengths When Shaving Against the Hair

Dog grooming can be a trial and error process for those of you that are just starting out.  We have been grooming in Houston long enough that it has become second nature and we can tell the process that needs to happen for each individual dog and each haircut/style.  Some dogs with undercoat or even those that have straight or wiry hair require a different techniques for shaving than other fluffier haired dogs.  To create a super smooth look you sometimes need to shave with a blade in reverse.  “In reverse” is a dog grooming term that simply means you shave against the grain of the hair, or from the back of the dog toward the front.  The great thing about shaving thick coated, straight, or wiry coated dogs in reverse is it picks up each hair and sends it through the clipper blade evenly which ultimately gives you a much smoother look when finishing.  It also allows for you to get under that thick undercoat that Chows, Shepherds, Pomeranians, etc. have.  There are a few things to remember when using your blades in reverse: because you are lifting the hair away from the skin when it moves through the clippers, your haircut will be shorter than you may have anticipated.  Using clipper blades in reverse results in twice as much hair taken off.  The same pretty much goes for comb attachments in reverse for fluffy dogs.  It can vary slightly depending on the brand of combs you have and the type of hair you’re dealing with.  Here’s a quick and simple translation of forward versus reverse blade lengths:
Blade Used in Reverse Length of Hair Remaining Equals This Blade
#15 blade 1/125 inch #40 blade
#10 blade 1/100 inch #30 blade
#7 blade 1/16 inch #10 blade
#4 blade 1/8 inch #7 blade
#2 comb 1/4 inch #5 blade

Comb Attachment Lengths and Uses @ Dog Grooming in Houston

If you prefer a longer hair cut on your dog, there are also comb cuts available.  Combs are attachments used on top of the blade to set a general length before the groomer can scissor the rest.  It’s basically a template for the overall cut.  There are scissor fees for this type of haircut because of the extra time involved in scissoring after the initial cut.  The lengths for comb cuts are as follows:
• #5 comb – leaves hair 1/8″ #5 Comb Top Dog Grooming #5 Comb Side View Dog Grooming
• #4 comb – leaves hair 1/4″  #4 Comb Top Dog Grooming in Houston  #4 Comb Side Dog Grooming in Houston
• #2 comb – leaves hair 3/8  #2 Comb Top Dog Grooming in Houston  #2 Comg Side Dog Grooming in Houston
• #1 comb – leaves hair 1/2″  #1 Comb Top Dog Grooming in Houston  #1 Comb Side Dog Grooming in Houston
• #0 comb – leaves hair 5/8″  #0 Comb Top Dog Grooming in Houston  #0 Comb Side Dog Grooming in Houston
• #A comb – leaves hair 3/4″  A comb Top Dog Grooming in Houston  A Comb Side Dog Grooming in Houston
• #C comb – leaves hair 7/8″  C Comb Top Dog Grooming in Houston  C Comb Side Dog Grooming in Houston
• #E comb – leaves hair 1″  E Comb Top Dog Grooming in Houston  E Comb Side Dog Grooming in Houston
 

Typical Dog Grooming Patterns @ Dog Grooming in Houston

There are actually very few patterns in the dog grooming world.  Every cut is either one of these patterns, or a variation of them.  Groomers hate hearing “I want a puppy cut” and other such vague requests.  There is no such thing as a “puppy” cut.  Terms like these mean so many different things to different people that it can be frustrating as a groomer to figure out exactly what the pet parent wants for their dog.  Likewise, it can be just as frustrating as a pet parent to try and get across what kind of cut they want.  Of course, we want to make all of our pets and pet parents happy so we’ve put together this little guide to help explain some of the typical cuts.
  • Schnauzer cut – This pattern can be put on any dog, really.  I love to explore and be creative with schnauzer patterns because of their sharp angles and eye catching lines.  Schnauzers, of course look great with their typical breed cut, but yorkies and other breeds look super cute with it too.  The pattern is set with a #10 or #7 blade on the back, neck, and top of the head.  The legs, skirt, are left long and full.  The eyebrows are sharply angled, ears and cheeks shaved.
  • Cocker cut – This is another pattern that can be put on most dogs and look great.  It’s very similar to the Schnauzer cut, but without the sharp angles.  The straight lined pattern is also set with a #10 or #7 blade and the legs and skirt are left full.  The face is shaved and some pet parents like to leave the head furry, while others prefer it to be shaved along with the top 1/3 of the ear.
  • Poodle cut(s) –  There are many different poodle cuts to choose from.  We recommend an in person consultation when selecting one of these cuts so that one of our skilled groomers can asses your dog’s coat and determine which is the best for that particular dog.  Typically poodles have shaved feet and faces.  They have rounded top knots and fluffy hair.  Only dogs with fluffy hair will be able to have one of these cuts.
  • Lamb cut – The lamb cut is great on fluffy dogs like poodles, bichons, and even shih-tsus and schnauzers.  The body is cut at the pet parent’s desired length while the legs are left fluffy, but are scissored to be neat and blended into the body.
  • Lion cut – The lion cut really only looks good on dogs that have very full, straight hair like pomeranians, chows, and collie type dogs.  The rear end of the body is shaved close to the skin while the top part is left long to attain that lion look.  The lion cut can be left natural looking with whispy fly away hairs or scissored to be neater and blended in appearance.
  • All Over cut – The dog is cut to one length all over it’s entire body (not including the head, ears, or tail).  This can be done at any length depending on the coat type and if the dog is tangled or not.
Again, all of these cuts can be varied to suit each of our clients individual needs.  If you prefer a schnauzer cut with short legs and skirt for easier maintenance, for example, we can do that.  We encourage you to think outside the box and challenge us with more unique cuts.  The company dog, Louie was a perfect candidate for a mix of a lion cut and a lamb cut.  He looks amazing that way!  As always, feel free to bring in pictures or ideas for us to use as a template or a way to communicate your likes and dislikes with our team of Houston dog grooming professionals.

Dog Grooming Terminology

There have been many occasions where a member of our grooming team has blurted out some kind of dog grooming terminology to a pet parent only to have a blank, confused look in response.  To help clear up any other confusion, here is a list of a few of the most common terms in our dog grooming language:

Dog Grooming – Head Terminology

  • Clean Face – Typically done on poodles, this just means we are to shave the face clean and very close to the skin.
  • Topknot (TK)- A topknot refers to the top of a dog’s head.  It should be round and blended into the body seamlessly.  A topnot can be a fluffy poodle head or a ponytail or pigtails at the top of the head on other dogs.
  • Teddy Bear Head – This is a rounded face and head typically given to shih-tsus and other small dogs.
  • Bichon Head – A bichon head is almost always exclusively done on the bichon frise because it requires full, fluffy hair to scissor properly.  This is a rounded or sometimes triangular (with the corners rounded off) head.  The ears are trimmed short and blended into the rest of the head so that they don’t stand out away from the rest of the head.
  • Tipped ears – Some breed cuts have what we call tipped ears.  This just means the top 1/3rd of the ear is shaved leaving sharply pointed ears.  Yorkies and Westies usually have tipped ears.
  • Leave Lashes – Some pet parents ask us to leave the eyelashes long on their dogs.  I would just like to explain that any dog groomer that guarantees they will leave the eyelashes long is a very foolish one.  Dogs are living, breathing, moving things that can twitch, jerk, sneeze, or get startled.  When we have scissors around those eyelashes to set, for example a schnauzers eyebrows or rounding a teddy bear head, it can be difficult to avoid cutting the eyelashes.  We will always do our best to keep those lovely lashes long, but it’s never a guarantee.

Dog Grooming – Feet Terminology

  • Clean Feet – Just like the above mentioned clean face, clean feet are completely shaved exposing the nails and the entire foot up to the ankle area.  Clean feet are usually done on poodles.
  • Round Feet – Round feet are fluffy feet that we scissor neatly without exposing the nails.
  • Tight Feet – Tight feet are kind of in between clean feet and rounded feet.  They expose the nails, keep the feet free from matting, but are not shaved close to the skin.

Dog Grooming – Body Terminology

  • GI cut – a GI cut is a full strip all over the body including the head, ears, and tail.  EVERYTHING gets shaved.  Many pet parents choose the GI cut for their dog if it is badly matted, sheds a lot, or if it has a dense undercoat.
  • Kennel Cut (KC) – Many of you out there use this term broadly to mean an all over shave down.  In the dog grooming world, a kennel cut is an all over length set either with a blade or a guide comb, but with clean face and clean feet as well as a topknot.
  • Pom Pom – Pom poms are typically done on poodles or other fluffy coated dogs.  They are usually cut above clean feet and on the end of the tail.  Only curly or thick coated dogs have hair that can be scissored into round pom poms.
  • Potty Path – a strip shaved from the anus down to the belly area for those dogs that are extremely hairy around the backend like pomeranians and chows.  If your dog has problems getting waste stuck in their hair, this is an excellent solution.
  • Sanies – This refers to the sanitary areas on dogs.  We always shave the sanies, or the belly, top inside of the back legs, and around the anus.  This keeps the potty areas clean between grooms.
  • Shell Out – A shell out is when the belly area is shaved all the way up to the arm pit area and includes the arm pits.  This is done on dogs with lots of tangles underneath their arms or on their tummies or for dogs that have a lot of undercoat.
We hope this little guide helps all of you pet parents out there when you’re deciding upon the perfect style and cut for your four legged fur baby.  We encourage you to mix and match the head, feet, and body for a unique look.  Our job is about making your dog as happy and gorgeous as possible while achieving the look you want.  For any other questions or to set up an appointment with one of our stylists, please contact us!

Dog Grooming | Basic Practices

Before beginning any dog grooming there are some things you should know.  You should always follow basic safety guidelines that all certified groomers are aware of, but the average pet parent may not be.  If grooming a dog on a raised surface such as a table, make sure to restrain and supervise your dog at all times.  Always remain within arms length of any animal on a grooming table.  If your dog shows any signs of stress during the dog grooming process like excessive panting or drooling or purple tongue or gums, discontinue the groom until the dog has had a chance to rest.  Be aware of the “danger zones” in grooming.  The eyes, lips, ears, elbows, and hocks are the most commonly cut areas and can all be safely groomed with attention and patience. Always brush and bathe your dog before cutting it’s hair.  Brushing a dog before and after the bath ensures they will not have any matting or tangling.  If your dog has any tangles and they get dampened, the matting tightens up and will have to be shaved out for the safety and comfort of your pet.  Brushing your dog is also an excellent time for bonding.  Dogs crave physical contact and affection so why not make it worthwhile for their coat at the same time?  Bathing your dog before the haircut not only makes the final dog grooming look better, it saves your clippers and scissors as well saving you money on sharpening and cleaning costs. Remember to check your dog’s ears each time you groom your dog.  Dirty or irritated ears should be cleaned and inspected for ear infections or parasites.  Maintaining your dog’s nails is a quick and easy, very necessary part of keeping up with their overall health as is teeth brushing.  Both should be done with each dog grooming.

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